Solid Waste Management:
Solid waste is the unwanted or useless solid materials generated from combined
residential, industrial and commercial activities in a given area. It may be categorised
according to its origin (domestic, industrial, commercial, construction or institutional)
according to its contents (organic material, glass, metal, plastic paper etc) or according to
hazard potential (toxic, non-toxin, flammable, radioactive, infectious etc).
Management of solid waste reduces or eliminates adverse impacts on the environment
and human health and supports economic development and improved quality of life. A
number of processes are involved in effectively managing waste for a municipality.
These include monitoring, collection, transport, processing, recycling and disposal.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Methods of waste reduction, waste reuse and recycling are the preferred options when
managing waste. There are many environmental benefits that can be derived from the
use of these methods. They reduce or prevent green house gas emissions, reduce the
release of pollutants, conserve resources, save energy and reduce the demand for waste
treatment technology and landfill space. Therefore it is advisable that these methods be
adopted and incorporated as part of the waste management plan.
Waste reduction and reuse
Waste reduction and reuse of products are both methods of waste prevention. They
eliminate the production of waste at the source of usual generation and reduce the
demands for large scale treatment and disposal facilities. Methods of waste reduction
include manufacturing products with less packaging, encouraging customers to bring
their own reusable bags for packaging, encouraging the public to choose reusable
products such as cloth napkins and reusable plastic and glass containers, backyard
composting and sharing and donating any unwanted items rather than discarding them.
All of the methods of waste prevention mentioned require public participation. In order to
get the public onboard, training and educational programmes need to be undertaken to
educate the public about their role in the process. Also the government may need to
regulate the types and amount of packaging used by manufacturers and make the reuse of
shopping bags mandatory.
Recycling refers to the removal of items from the waste stream to be used as raw
materials in the manufacture of new products. Thus from this definition recycling occurs
in three phases: first the waste is sorted and recyclables collected, the recyclables are
used to create raw materials. These raw materials are then used in the production of new